Dylan O’Keefe re-ignited the race for the inaugural carsales TCR Australia Series championship with a near-faultless run through three hot contests at Queensland Raceway.
Two wins and a second place gave O’Keefe a hefty points haul with his Alfa Romeo Giulietta as championship leader Will Brown failed to fire, allowing him to more than halve the Hyundai driver’s advantage at the top of the points table.
Brown arrived on the Northern swing with a comfortable 125-point advantage but left with only a 55-point buffer and O’Keefe on top form heading to the next leg, the fifth of seven, at Winton in rural Victoria.
Veteran Russell Ingall was the surprise packet for the weekend, taking three podiums with his Audi RS3 and hoping to extend his guest-driver spot through to the end of the championship. A third and two seconds showed he is adjusting to the challenge of front-wheel drive turbo TCR cars after spending most of his career in V8 Supercars.
The first-race winner at QR on Saturday, French Audi raider JK Vernay, was ruled out on Sunday morning and his place was taken at the last minute by youngster Aaron Seton. He learned a lot but was near the back in his two starts, as Tony D’Alberto got onto the podium for the first time since the season began at Sydney Motorsport Park with third place in the final race.
“That was fun. We had good speed all weekend,” O’Keefe said as he packed his trophies.
“Will had to have a bad weekend sometime and we were able to maximise. I’m excited for the rest of the year.”
Brown was downcast after a string of brake dramas in his Hyundai that meant he only managed 10th and 8th in the Sunday sprints.
He was eventually bottled-up behind Jordan Cox in an Alfa towards the end of the final race.
“I wanted him to hurry up. I was tempted to hit him at the end. I was getting really frustrated by the brake problems,” Brown said.
But he is not panicking about the championship and believes his Hyundai will be quick on the three-meeting final swing through Winton, Sandown and The Bend in Adelaide.
“It’s alright. I’ve still got a good buffer,” he said.
“I’m not bothered. I still set the fastest lap in the final race.”
There were plenty of casualties through the weekend, although there was none of the biffing-and-banging dramas of earlier races.
Even John Martin, who was a crash magnet at earlier events, managed a trouble-free weekend although he spent most of the weekend in the mid-pack with his Honda Civic Type R and was only sixth in the final race.
“It was alright. Not great. We struggled a little bit in race 2 and when we had plenty of pace in the last race we overheated the front tyres,” said Martin.
James Moffat, who was third in the championship heading to QR, dropped to fifth with car troubles in his Renault Megane RS and then a flat tyre in the final run.
“I’ve had better days at racetracks, but I’ve had worse. The right-rear was going soft, and then it just went down. So I had to stop and change it,”Moffat said.
The carsales TCR Australia Series continues at Winton in Victoria from August 30-September 1.
Results, Race 3
|1||9||Dylan O’Keeffe (Vic)||Ashley Seward Motorsport||Alfa Romeo Giulietta||21||26:29.0232|
|2||100||Russell Ingall (Qld)||Melbourne Performance Centre||Audi RS 3||21||26:30.2305|
|3||50||Tony D’Alberto (Vic)||Wall Racing||Honda Civic Type R||21||26:31.2641|
|4||11||Nathan Morcom (NSW)||HMO Customer Racing||Hyundai i30N||21||26:31.7994|
|5||2||Aaron Cameron (Vic)||Melbourne Performance Centre||Volkswagen Golf GTI||21||26:32.1951|
|6||24||John Martin (NSW)||Wall Racing||Honda Civic Type R||21||26:32.7397|
|7||7||Jordan Cox (NSW)||Garry Rogers Motorsport||Alfa Romeo Giulietta||21||26:37.3092|
|8||30||William Brown (Qld)||HMO Customer Racing||Hyundai i30N||21||26:37.6515|
|9||3||Leanne Tander (Vic)||Melbourne Performance Centre||Audi RS 3||21||26:40.2307|
|10||8||Jason Bright (Vic)||Taskforce / Alliance Autosport||Volkswagon Golf GTI||21||26:45.4155|
|11||4||Aaron Seton (Qld)||Melbourne Performance Centre||Audi RS 3||21||26:47.9314|
|12||38||Jordan Michels (NZ)||Wall Racing||Honda Civic Type R||21||26:48.5782|
|13||62||Alex Rullo (WA)||Kelly Racing||Holden Astra||21||26:56.7471|
|14||35||Alexandra Whitley (Qld)||Alliance Autosport||Volkswagon Golf GTI||21||27:02.2086|
|15||34||James Moffat (Vic)||Garry Rogers Motorsport||Renault Megane RS||20||27:45.2361|
|DNF||6||Molly Taylor (NSW)||Kelly Racing||Subaru WRX STi||8||10:26.7270|
Standings after Round 4